Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Ordinary Blog Post... wow, that was unclever

For a class, I was assigned to follow one of the television shows that debuted this fall. I was lucky enough to have been able to grab ABC's "No Ordinary Family," which airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST. I say that I'm lucky because it is just as interesting and intriguing as I had hoped, and it was also one of the few shows that didn't look terrible. (I feel kinda bad for the kid that got stuck with "Lone Star"...)

"No Ordinary Family" follows the lives of the Powells, a slightly dysfunctional family that becomes slightly less (or more?) dysfunctional after a family vacation to Brazil results in a plane crash into a mysterious lake. As a result of something in the water, the family develops superhuman powers, such as father Jim's (Michael Chiklis) super strength and ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound (though NOT fly), mother Stephanie's (Julie Benz) 600mph running speed (and a side effect of a ridiculous metabolism), daughter Daphne's (Kay Panabaker) who can read minds, and son JJ's (Jimmy Bennett) genius mind.

On the whole, the show is fun to watch, and the running plotlines (such as Jim and Stephanie's constant arguing over when it's "right" to use their powers and JJ's initial reluctance to tell his parents about his powers) make for some interesting drama. I won't say the writing is entirely perfect, though. There are moments where the dialogue and action feels sorta... oh, what's the word... hokey. For instance, there are times (which seem to pop up at random) where you can't help but feel like everyone around the Powells are completely thick and miss the obvious signs that something just plain ain't right with this family. I'm saying this while well aware that we, the audience, have the omnipresent eye and know everything that's going on, but it still feels like someone somewhere should have picked up on something.

While not entirely proving my point, I would like to reference a scene from this week's show. In this episode, Stephanie's prying parents stop by for a surprise visit, and the family try to keep them entertained (and to keep their secret safe). Steph's father (Bruce McGill), still under the impression that JJ's thick, schools his grandson for a few games before the following scene occurs. (Note: Video will likely expire about a month from when this post is written.)

Well then, how many things did we spot wrong with that scene? Trust me, you've got to see the amazing stuntwork that takes place later in the episode, it's equally sad. Not all of the show is this terrible, but there are those moments of hokeyness that just drive you up a wall.

In any case, the main point of the class assignment was to follow the show, and pay attention to the ratings. To be honest, "No Ordinary Family" is against stiff veteran competition, including apparent old-person favorite "NCIS," younger-skewing powerhouse "Glee," and... well, "The Biggest Loser" returned for another season. Let's give them a hand. Right then, the ratings (as of this Sunday, when I first scrawled out this chart):

Wa-hey, a pretty consistent third place! For being the rookie for the time slot, I'd say that "No Ordinary Family" is holding its own fairly well (though I'm not a network exec, so I could be way off). There's something about those Tuesday 8pm numbers that scare me a bit though. While "NCIS" consistently holds rating well over its nearest competitor on most nights, "Glee" wins over the 18-49 demographic on nights with new episodes. "Dancing with the Stars," normally a powerhouse for the older demographic, creamed "NCIS" with last week's early results show. These two factors lead me to believe that while "Glee" gets the younger crowd (and subsequently, the advertising), "NCIS" gets the points from the Neilsen Nursing Homes across America.

So where does that leave "No Ordinary Family?" Limbo, I guess. It's holding its ground, but it's not really excelling. Seeing that it hasn't gotten the "Lone Star" treatment yet, I still think there's great potential for the show. Most of the casual remarks I've heard/read about the show say that it's "interesting." I hope ABC continues to back this show, because they really do have a unique show on their hands. I've somewhat fallen in love with the plot, despite its flaws, so I hope this show catches on, possibly in a different time slot where it has more exposure. Oh, and some more consistent writing would be lovely.

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